Paul W.S. Anderson says his adaptation of Monster Hunter is the most loyal video game movie, with the game creators approving everything on the screen. Anderson is best known for directing the Resident Evil series, as well as the Mortal Kombat (1995) movie and the cult sci-fi horror Event Horizon (1997). His latest video game adaptation, Monster Hunter, dropped its first trailer last week. The movie's story differs from the game in that it focuses on a military force (led by the director's real-life wife, Milla Jovovich) who is transported to the fantasy world of the game.
The adaptation has been in the works since 2012 but only rolled cameras in 2018 in the barren southern African desert nation of Namibia. Initially scheduled for release in September, Monster Hunter was delayed to April 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic but was then pushed up to December 2020, a release date confirmed by the trailer. Focusing on the Diablos from the game, the trailer makes the movie look like a big bombastic action adaptation of the video games, rather than a directly faithful adaptation. But Anderson insists it's the most faithful video game adaptation ever.
Speaking to Screen Rant during an interview to coincide with the Monster Hunter panel at New York Comic-con, Anderson says that he's learned from all his previous video game movies that fans appreciate when an adaptation remains faithful to its source. As such, he says, he got Ryozo Tsujimoto and Kaname Fujioka to approve everything that is on screen in the movie, imbuing the film with as much of the games' DNA as possible. Anderson adds that it wasn't just about approval, but that the pair were involved in the fabric of the filmmaking process from start to finish. You can read his full comments below:
Screen Rant: This isn't your first video game movie rodeo. What did you learn from Mortal Kombat and Resident Evil that helped you adapt Monster Hunter?
Paul W.S. Anderson: I think you learn from every movie that you make. If you ever get to the point where you think you know everything as the filmmaker, that's when you should quit making movies. Every movie is a learning experience, and certainly in the field of video game adaptations, I'm a lot more experienced than most.
I've always approached video game adaptations as, first and foremost, a fan. I've never adapted anything that I wasn't a huge fan of, that I wasn't a player of, that I wasn't really immersed in the world of. That, to me, has always been the key to my approach - play the games and be immersed in the world.
And I think what I learned on Mortal Kombat was - that was always my instinct - to imbue the movies with as much DNA from the games as I could. And certainly, that was a that was a good experience on Mortal Kombat, because I really learned that paid off. You could tell from the fan reaction when you got things right, that they really appreciated it. There was a set that we built called the pit, for example, and when we tested the movie a whole bunch of guys stood up and screamed, "The Pit!"
For you, as a filmmaker, that's when your heart surges, "Thank God, we got it right." People really appreciate it. For a non-gamer, the pit just looked like a really cool piece of production design, but for a gamer, that really resonated with you, as did the accuracy of like costumes for Scorpion and Sub-Zero and things like that. That's something that I've tried to bring into the adaptation of Monster Hunter.
“But I will say that in Monster Hunter, I've gone above and beyond any of the other game adaptations I've been involved in - in terms of involving the game creators in the process of the movie itself.
We have Ryozo Tsujimoto, who's the producer of the games, and Kaname Fujioka, who is the director of the games - they've pretty much approved everything that went on screen. From the detailed look of the creatures, the look of all of the costumes, and the landscapes that we chose; they were very, very involved in the fabric of the filmmaking process.